Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #117

June 22 – June 28, 2014

Welcome to week one hundred seventeen of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. How Soccer Explains the Sports Page: When a handful of newspaper reporters helped introduce America to the ‘Beautiful Game’ 32 years ago
  2. World Cup fans watching around the world (slideshow)
  3. The Ultimate Underdog; University of Tokyo, a Baseball Lightweight, Inspires Fans
  4. For Openers, Rugby Match Sales Kick Into High Gear
  5. Neymar Teams Up With PayPal to Bring Clean Water to Brazilians
  6. ‘The Endless Summer’ Endures in Senegal
  7. Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin and MTWB raise $170K for South Philadelphia park revitalization
  8. How The World Cup Made These Chicago Seniors And Brazilian Students Internet Buddies
  9. Jabari Parker Visits Recovering Joel Embiid, Brings Oreos
  10. Youth Leaders Are Fighting for Social Justice and Inclusion Through Sports

While much of the world’s attention is pointed towards the wonderful World Cup taking place in Brazil, other sporting events, in fact, just life in general goes on. So there is Wimbledon, Major League Baseball, the NBA draft, and men’s and women’s golf, amongst a host of other activities. One sporting event, along with a related educational initiative recently took place that caught our attention and is included in this week’s collection of stories.

At the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, we saw more than 3,000 athletes competing for gold, silver, and bronze medals, and/or looking to beat their personal bests. Along with the athletic competition, a special group of over 100 high school students with and without intellectual disabilities met at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games Youth Summit as leaders within Project UNIFY, Special Olympics’ “education and sports based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities, while creating communities of acceptance for all.”

The vast potential of this summit and others like it is captured not just by the presence of young people – high school and college-aged – at the event, but more importantly by the key roles they are given in shaping the message of the summit and leading the execution of the various initiatives. We saw such an approach at the World Sports Values Summit at the United Nations one month ago. Those young leaders, like the ones here, are being asked to come up with solutions they feel will be the most effective, and sustainable, in achieving said goals. We are more than encouraged by this strategy of including energetic and intelligent young people in making valuable changes on and off the sporting field.

Other stories that we are happy to feature this week include: the story behind on how the World Cup was truly introduced for the first time to news readers and sports fans in the U.S. 32 years ago; images of members of the human race being brought together by the power of sport; the University of Tokyo baseball team; the undeniable emergence of rugby on the U.S. sports scene; Brazilian star Neymar and his efforts to help bring clean water to his fellow citizens; Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin; and young basketball stars Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid sharing a light moment; amongst other stories.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

How Soccer Explains the Sports Page: When a handful of newspaper reporters helped introduce America to the ‘Beautiful Game’ 32 years ago
By 1982, soccer writing had begun to take on some of the contours we’d recognize today. It was already a Model United Nations for writers. As Alastair Reid quoted an American diplomat saying in The New Yorker that year: “I have come to believe quite firmly that if the United States had a national soccer team that played regularly against the established soccer-playing nations … the whole conducting of diplomacy would be considerably eased and humanized for us.”

World Cup fans watching around the world (slideshow)
Only 32 teams are competing in the World Cup 2014, but the tournament has a universal appeal that reaches every corner of the globe. Worldwide soccer fans who couldn’t make it to Brazil are instead gathering around TV screens wherever they can find them, eager to watch all the action and cheer on their teams.

Soccer fans watch the opening match of the 2014 World Cup between Brazil and Croatia at a Shopping mall in Hong Kong, Friday, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The Ultimate Underdog; University of Tokyo, a Baseball Lightweight, Inspires Fans
The antics had nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with devotion to a group. The songs were simple and upbeat with none of the nastiness found in, say, chants at some soccer games. One cheer simply went, “T-O, K-Y-O, let’s go!” “As a team, it’s impossible to stop the losing streak, but it’s important to have people cheering us on,” Hatsuma, the team’s center fielder, said. Members of Todai’s oendan said their goal was to inspire the players to victory, and after the team lost, they said it was because they had not inspired them enough.

The University of Tokyo — known locally as Todai — churns out successful students in many fields, but it does not consider baseball success a priority. Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

For Openers, Rugby Match Sales Kick Into High Gear
Rugby, buoyed by an Olympic berth in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, recent collegiate championships and Sevens exhibition in Philadelphia among a string of recent successes, has been making inroads on the U.S. sports scene. The next step? A matchup between the Team USA Eagles and New Zealand All-Blacks on Nov. 1 at Soldier Field in Chicago, for which more than 30,000 tickets were sold as the first day of ticketing was completed Monday. “The sport is fast paced, hard hitting and the concepts of team and camaraderie are at the core of the game,” explained Mike Principe, CEO of Legacy Agency, the exclusive worldwide commercial agent for the match.

Neymar Teams Up With PayPal to Bring Clean Water to Brazilians
“I am extremely proud to work with PayPal to support Waves for Water,” Neymar said in a statement. “It deeply saddens me that so many people from my home country of Brazil have limited access to clean water, a gift so many of us take for granted. Through this campaign I hope we can touch people’s lives in a meaningful way and raise enough funds to bring safe, clean water to communities in need across my beloved Brazil.”

‘The Endless Summer’ Endures in Senegal
While Senegal’s waves were put on the map 50 years ago because of “The Endless Summer,” its surf scene has evolved mostly within the last 10 years, not coincidently with the surge in surf tourism. With direct flights to Dakar from places like Paris and now even JFK Airport in New York, it’s become more accessible. Increased traffic has created more jobs for locals and more surfing equipment gets left behind. Currently there are approximately 50 locals who surf and that number is growing. Additionally, Senegal now has its own surf federation, holds its own national championship, and is one of the stops on the Rip Curl West Africa tour.

Walking to surf with a couple of best friends from Ngor Village. Nicole Dreon

Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin and MTWB raise $170K for South Philadelphia park revitalization
According to a press release, Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin’s benefit concert at Union Transfer last week was a huge success. Barwin raised a total of $85,000, and that sum was matched by his Make The World Better (MTWB) Foundation to bring the grand total up to $170,000. All proceeds will be going towards the Ralph Brooks revitalization project. The park is located at 20th and Tasker in South Philadelphia.

How The World Cup Made These Chicago Seniors And Brazilian Students Internet Buddies
Despite the more than 5,000 miles and several generations separating them, 15 Windsor Park seniors and a school full Brazilian English language students, mostly teenagers, have already made heartwarming connections. The chats are part of a pilot program from CNA Speaking Exchange in Sao Paulo. The students log on twice a week to chat with their new friends at Windsor Park who help the students with their words by coaching them on conversational speaking and syntax. The free-form video chats are recorded by the school’s proprietary software records for an instructor to evaluate later.

Jabari Parker Visits Recovering Joel Embiid, Brings Oreos
“Had to check up on my boy @joelembiid and give him his meds. He’s in very good spirits. s/o to @arsnyder1 for taking the photo. #GodspeedJOJO,” Parker wrote. Chalk this up as a classy move by Parker, who may be moving up in the NBA draft due to Embiid’s injury. Once projected as the consensus No. 1 selection, Embiid could fall several spots after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.

Youth Leaders Are Fighting for Social Justice and Inclusion Through Sports
The most important message of this summer’s Youth Summit is simple — “Play Unified. Live Unified.” Unified is the revolutionary concept — just as revolutionary as Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s pioneering work for social justice — that young people with and without intellectual disabilities can work together towards a greater victory than either could have reached on his or her own. In this way, Special Olympics is far from being a form of segregation; it’s all about inclusion.

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Contact InformationSarbjit “Sab” Singh